Denis Goldberg: celebrated stalwart who said 'up yours' to tyranny

A freedom fighter sometimes called the forgotten man of the Rivonia trial, Denis Goldberg, has died after a lifetime spent working against racism and oppression at huge personal cost

03 May 2020 - 00:00 By Chris Barron

Denis Goldberg, who has died in Cape Town at the age of 87, spent 22 years in prison after being sentenced at the Rivonia trial on June 12 1964 to four life terms under the Sabotage and Suppression of Communism Acts for “campaigning to overthrow the government by violent revolution and for assisting an armed invasion of the country by foreign troops”.

Goldman was 31 at the time, the youngest of the Rivonia triallists. He fully expected to be hanged, especially after hearing Nelson Mandela’s I am prepared to die speech (“daring the judge to hang us”) from the dock. When judge Quartus de Wet handed down the sentence, Goldberg’s mother, who couldn’t hear very well, shouted: “Denis, Denis, what is it?”..

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